What Do Prosecutors Need to Prove in Arlington Court?

If you have been accused of committing a criminal offense in Arlington, Virginia the following are what the prosecution must prove in court. To learn more about court cases in Arlington or to discuss your case schedule a free consultation with and Arlington criminal lawyer today.

What Does The Prosecution Have to Prove in Court?

The prosecution has the burden of proof. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of every offense for which the defendant is charged.

For example, in a driving under the influence case, the prosecutor will have to prove that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, and it should be noted that “operating” is a legal term that can be construed in  many different ways depending on what kind of vehicle it is and what the driver or operating is doing with the car at the time. So, if the car is off, but the key is on the ignition that can still be operating under Virginia law.

The Commonwealth must also prove that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the operation of the vehicle. Being under the influence means that the person is showing signs of impairment such that it’s noticeable to the officer or other people; or it can mean that you are operating the vehicle at a certain blood alcohol content, regardless of how it is affecting you. That means that at some point you blew into a machine and the machine produced a reading of your blood alcohol concentration and that concentration was above the legal limit in Virginia.

There are two elements that the Commonwealth must show to convict someone for driving under the influence: that they were operating a motor vehicle and that they did so either under the influence of alcohol or while their blood alcohol concentration was above the .08.

In every offense there are certain elements, usually, there’s two to five depending on the charge, that the Commonwealth must prove.

They must prove each of those beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or the jury does not find that they’ve proven any of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt they must acquit.

That is the standard. It’s a high standard and rightfully high so that innocent people are not convicted. And it’s their burden to put the evidence on. When you walk into court you are presumed to be innocent even if you have been arrested or have been charged with a crime.

How Does The Prosecution go About Proving Their Case?

The prosecution proves their case primarily from testimony by the witnesses to a crime. In most cases the commonwealth proves their case through the testimony of police officers or a combination of police officers and “civilian” witnesses. The prosecutors also use any other evidence they have; photographs of the scene, video recordings, audio recordings that they may have, DNA evidence, fingerprint evidence, shoe print evidence, scientific tests or whatever they can have that helps them prove that you committed the offense. They will most certainly use anything in their possession that makes it more likely that you are guilty.

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